University police chief to retire after 32 years of service
After 32 years with the New York State University Police and a challenging spring 2018 semester, Plattsburgh State University Police Chief Jerry Lottie will retire May 24.
“This semester was a very difficult time. There’s no doubt about it,” Lottie said. “It established a level of mistrust and distrust. I saw that with students we’ve had relationships with for a long time, but I get it. All of a sudden, their world exploded, and now, you don’t know who you can trust.”
Lottie said campus unrest and student protest in the wake of racial issues did not prompt or influence his decision to retire. He had planned to do so in 2015, he said. But when the previous chief, Arlene Sabo, left PSUC that year for another job, Lottie postponed his retirement and took the position.
“My thought was to do this for three years, so this spring, the three years was up,” he said. “It’s not something I wanted to announce early on because I think if people know you’re retiring, they perceive you as a lame duck, and I didn’t want people to perceive me as a lame duck or perceive the department in that way.”
The search for a new chief is under way, said Vice President of Student Affairs Bryan Hartman.
The position was posted last Friday. A search committee has also been formed and held its first meeting last Tuesday, he said.
Hartman said he plans on holding a forum with PSUC students and the potential candidates to get student feedback. No date has been set.
The college will likely conduct interviews during finals week, he added.
“We’re trying to do this pretty quick,” he said.
But Hartman has mixed feelings about Lottie’s departure.
“I wish he wouldn’t retire. He has been providing some very strong leadership,” Hartman said. “When he told me, especially with the timeline, I wasn’t happy. But I’m happy for him personally. He deserves to retire when he wants.”
Hartman said University Police’s support of both planned and unplanned protests, rallies and marches this semester has provided students the opportunity to express their thoughts how they see fit.
“It doesn’t mean anything goes, but in that march on Feb. 16, (University Police) gave them room to do what they felt they needed to,” Hartman said. “In reality, (University Police) didn’t have to let them walk in the streets. That’s the professionalism and judgement of what’s best in the moment.”
The philosophy of supporting student expression is something Hartman hopes for in the next chief, he said.
“It’s certainly something I will be talking with the candidates about.”
Lottie said during his career, a lot has changed in law enforcement. After working in security at St. Lawrence University, he was hired as a public safety officer at SUNY Canton in the mid 1980s. SUNY Public Safety became New York State University Police in the late 1990s.
“I started off wearing a brown uniform. People used to ask us when duck season was going to start,” he said. “We went from being unarmed to being armed with patrol rifles. Reports used to be handwritten. Now every car has a computer, and we can track information and vehicles.”
Lottie said he will “miss every bit” of the job.
“I’m going to miss the people on campus; I’m going to miss the campus,” he said. “[On] May 25 I’m going to be a civilian. I haven’t been a civilian for 40 years.
“Initially, I’m going to make up for some lost time with the family, turn off my cell phone for a bit and decompress.”
President’s chief of staff ready to go in new direction
Second story: Plattsburgh State President Ettling’s Chief of Staff Keith Tyo will retire this July after 22 years at PSUC, leaving Ettling to find a replacement.
“I’m kind of long overdue for a change,” Tyo, 61, said.
The votes of no confidence in PSUC President Ettling, Director of Student Conduct Larry Allen and Chief Diversity Officer J.W. Wiley did not spur Tyo’s decision to retire, he said, noting that he had made his decision last December.
“I had been thinking about it for some time,” he said. “I’d been kind of waiting for (Ettling) to make a decision because he’s been here just about 14 years, and that’s a long time for a president,” Tyo said.
Tyo waited until recently to announce his retirement “because I turned in my paperwork then,” he said.
“Turning in a piece of paper that says I’m resigning effective this date, and you’ve been here 22 years, is a tough decision.”
He thinks the PSUC administration has done the best job it could this semester in response to racial issues and student calls for change.
“You try to encompass as many as many diverse issues and areas,” he said. “[But] you’re never going to make it right. You can try your best.”
Tyo said he thinks variables make it hard to predict which way to go sometimes but added that all colleges are facing the same dilemmas.
Ettling said Tyo’s retirement will affect the administration “significantly.”
“There are so many things he handles that we are going to have to distribute across other people,” he said. “I don’t know how I’m going to put all these pieces together. Each piece is important, but they all won’t go to the same person.”
Ettling plans to have filled the position or identified someone for it by the third week of July.
“It would have to be a good personal relationship. And that’s not just picking a name off a list; that’s somebody who I probably already know and trust,” Ettling said.
Tyo started at PSUC in 1995 as the Director of Communications. When Ettling became president in 2004, he brought Tyo into his cabinet.
“My biggest things I’m going to miss are going someplace for work in the morning, and the colleagues are my friends,” Tyo said.
He plans to help with the website and logistics for his brother’s business, which provides security at large events around the country.
“I’m interested in going in a different direction,” he said.
Ettling: ‘I’ve changed.’
President Ettling plans to keep his position for another year but has been giving more thought to retirement.
“It’s time for me at some point in the near future to turn it over to somebody else,” he said.
Ettling expects he will decide on a retirement date and announce it sometime this summer, he said. Though he has “no plans to retire next year, at least not next academic year.”
“I hope that, with the student government, I’ll be able to demonstrate that, whereas perhaps that (vote of no confidence) that was taken in February was justified, it no longer is,” he said. “The situation has changed. I’ve changed. I’m no longer the person in which they should not feel confident.”
Email Kody Mashtare at firstname.lastname@example.org